I’ve made a point here over the years to highlight the education I’ve been receiving while working with our Nicaraguan partners. It turns out that I may have far less to teach my Nicaraguan acquaintances than I might have once thought, and that they have immensely more to teach me than I ever dreamed. In a development activity wherein we have supposedly been the givers and the Nicaraguan people the receivers, the roles can easily be said to be interchangeable. Indeed, I have gained immense insights about people, the universality of our needs, the depth of human desire and the comparative shallowness of my own journey.
Nonetheless. WPF has been instrumental in helping our partners to acquire new ideas and perspectives about their own circumstances and has thus impacted many of them in very positive ways. Concurrently, the Nicaraguan colleagues with whom we have worked closely have proven themselves to be not just good teachers of the rural poor, but great mentors and life-coaches for people who too frequently have had little or no access to such resources. In short, there has been no shortage of teaching and learning taking place within our work; in fact, it is the essence of transformation.
Nicaraguan education of another sort is now slated to begin in
another week or so, as WPF consultant and colleague Rene Mendoza will travel to the U.S. for an intense week of study and experience on behalf of the rural cooperatives which he has been serving for much of his life. It’s a learning journey for Rene, who will be studying topics including open book management, continuous process improvement, organizational dynamics, successful cooperative models and more. It’s also an expedition of preparation, providing Rene with more of the tools to be shared with small cooperatives who are in desperate need of organizational savvy.
Rene will spend four days immersed in open book methodologies, absorbing the best practices of some of the best OBM companies in the U.S. He’ll then change venues and meet with a real-life practitioner of organizational continuous improvement, or Lean, to gain deeper insights into the sequence and content of teaching newcomers to the concept. At the same time, we’ll be planning for future Nicaraguan workshops to supplement the Lean materials previously introduced to our partners. Lean is a subject matter entirely unto itself, but to strategize its absorption and practice by rural farmers (many of whom have received little or no formal education) adds a dimension of difficulty requiring Lean knowledge as well as sophisticated teaching skills. Finally, Rene will travel to the east coast, there to spend time with Equal Exchange, a cooperative of widespread renown and which strives for mutually beneficial relationships in all of its dealings. After an entire week of whirlwind experiences, Rene will head back to Nicaragua with a wide range of new experiences and potential strategies, in addition to a need for some rest!
The prospect of Rene’s activities during that week is exciting for him as the main participant, exciting for his WPF colleagues due to the possibilities that such exposures might bring to our development work and exciting to our rural partners who have come to recognize the wide range of enterprise education that exists, and how that might contribute to elevating their circumstances. The scenario represents “education on steroids,” where practical training meets actual needs, and in real time.
The point of all this is simply that none of us can ever afford to stop the learning, the teaching, the mentoring, the sharing, the growing that lies within us. We are all purveyors. We are creatures who possess not only the capacity for development, but the need for it, as well. Our health, well-being and futures depend upon our openness to it.
In another week, there will be at least one sojourner here who will carry a big load, as a significant pivot for Nicaraguans in need of some friendly leverage….